Our New Reality: An Interactive Art Installation

Claire Whitesell

Whitesell BanksyAn example of climate-related art by street artist Banksy

Art has traditionally served to solidify social order through intentional, repeated use of imagery. In contemporary democratic societies art not only functions to maintain social order and to describe the world, but also to explore issues of social justice, identity, and freedom. Most people agree that art alone cannot change society.

However, art does give a voice and form to societal needs, thus motivating and sustaining social movements.  The arts recharge activists by providing elements of pleasure and aesthetic interest. Visual images can create a source of identity with the cause and artists utilize methods that communicate more than verbal text. The arts can set an emotional tone and move their audience from indifference to action. Art works have been created with the intent of establishing or rejuvenating emotional tone within a social movement. As Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote, “[I]t is upon this capacity of man to receive another man’s expression of feeling and experience those feelings himself, that the basis of the activity of art is based.”

Through my capstone project I hope to ignite emotion and action in my viewers. I plan to create an installation that allows the viewer to see/experience what the effects of climate change will be as we continue down our current path. While most people understand the realities of climate change, we continue down our path of rapid population growth, global temperature rise, ecosystem decay, and resource depletion. My project aims to immerse the viewer in our stark reality. Forced to come face to face with these phenomenons I hope to inspire a social change that will hopefully lead to a personal interest in the cause and ultimately positive action. Art has historically been used to spark social change, and through this personal art piece, I hope to achieve the same. Many people say that it is impossible to believe without seeing: here I will bring our community head to head with the realities of climate change that we have tried so hard to remain blind to.